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The meal at the Kentucky wedding prompts the Jamaican to open his city’s only Caribbean restaurant

Jamaican Dwayne Whyte and his wife Shanetha own and operate Jamaican Yard Vibes, the only Caribbean restaurant in Owensboro, Kentucky. The carry-out restaurant strives to offer Owensboro a true Jamaican cultural experience with its menu of traditional and flavorful island dishes.

The meal at the Kentucky wedding prompts the Jamaican to open his only Caribbean restaurant in town

Dwayne Whyte

Whyte says he loves seeing people enjoying the food at Jamaican Yard Vibes, adding that it fills him with joy knowing that something he, his wife and family have built together is like this is greatly appreciated. “If you can cook for people and they enjoy your food, it makes you happy,” he said. “We just want people to keep coming back.”

Dwayne and Shanetha Whyte met in Jamaica where he lived and she vacationed. He eventually moved to Owensboro to be with her and they married in June 2019. He says it was love that brought him to Kentucky. To highlight Dwayne’s Jamaican heritage, the couple prepared Jamaican dishes for the wedding guests. The dishes were well received by all and as a result members of the community suggested that the newlywed Whytes should open a restaurant. He started cooking for his brothers and sisters at the age of eight to help out his mother who worked outside the home. He usually prepared meals for eight or ten people at a time and continued to cook throughout his life.

After continued encouragement from their community, the Whytes began offering various catering options and offering Jamaican cuisine from their home. Her dream was to have a restaurant, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put her plans on hold. However, their food proved so popular that people lined up on the street for their jerk chicken, jerk pork, curry goat, curry chicken, and oxtail soup. Now they are the proud owners of a booming restaurant business on Owensboro’s west side and employ three people at the venue. Whyte acknowledged that there are few Jamaicans in Owensboro, but there are a number of people from other Caribbean islands who are very supportive of the restaurant.

The menu at Jamaican Yard Vibes includes oxtail, jerk chicken, jerk pork, rice and beans, beef patties on cocoa bread, beef stew, steamed salad and cabbage. The eatery also offers Whyte’s own version of mutton. Whyte notes that most people think everything on the menu is spicy, but many dishes aren’t. “We have something for everyone,” he said.

Jamaican Yard Vibes is proudly decorated with the green, black and yellow colors of the Jamaican flag to honor Whyte’s home island, and images of reggae icon Bob Marley are featured throughout. The restaurant also stocks authentic Jamaican sodas, but diners know that true authenticity comes from Whyte himself: he puts his heart and soul into everything he cooks, and he enjoys it.